Micam Buyers Talk Trends

MILAN — Many footwear retailers shopping Micam last week said they are beginning to emerge from the global economic downturn, but some are still worried about the lack of fresh trends for spring ’11.

“It was a lackluster show in terms of excitement,” said Richard Kirshenbaum, founder and partner of Shoebox New York, explaining that he saw no real trend direction for the U.S. market. “There were too many boots, as well as a lot of flats, espadrilles and ballerinas, which we anticipated.”

Some buyers questioned whether this season’s key trends — namely clogs — will ring up sales again next year. “Our market is very progressive, so the clog trend will probably be over for us in 2011,” said George Doumani, co-owner of Goggle +21 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Other retailers were banking on last spring’s hot styles, including espadrilles, remaining strong. “We sell huge numbers of flat and wedge espadrilles,” said Caroline Kenefick, owner of Luca in Cork, Ireland.

Many of the nearly 1,600 exhibitors at the show were Italian and ranged from luxury names such as Rossimoda, which unveiled collections from Pucci, Donna Karan and Kenzo, to fast-fashion labels like Fornarina. “We have seen many customers from our best markets here — Europe, Japan and Canada,” said Lina Fornarl of Le Marche, Italy-based Fornarina, which has 100 stores worldwide. “We are seeking to increase our U.S. presence and are in negotiations with a distributor there.”

Other vendors who produce shoes in Europe said they are benefiting from the decline in the euro. “The euro being back around 1.30 [against the U.S. dollar] has encouraged buyers who used to shop Micam to think about it again,” said Sandra Canselier, owner of New York-based brand Coclico, which showed in Micam’s visitor’s area.

But some retailers said the exchange rate was still a concern. “The dollar weakened in the six days I was out of the country, and it’s hard to say where it’s headed,” said LaRonda Denkler, buyer from Delray Beach, Fla.-based Vince Canning Shoes.

Several newcomers to the show, including Ted Baker, Voulee and Fins for Him, said they found new customers at Micam.

“Every order we have taken is from new clients from stores in Italy, Poland and Japan,” said Melissa Regan de Vogele, managing director of Paris-based Vouelle, which introduced a line of white-satin vulcanized bridal tennis shoes, retailing from $150 to $175.

Overall, there was a more upbeat mood among footwear players at this edition, Micam organizers said.

“The recovery is more widespread, with more companies doing better than we thought,” said Fabio Aromatici, GM of ANCI, the Italian footwear manufacturers’ association. “We saw a strong return in visitors from England and Russia, and in particular from China, where there was a 10 percent increase in the number of visitors.” All told, Micam drew 42,330 visitors, a 6 percent increase over the September 2009 edition.

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